Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Agility 101 :)

Ok so my mini-vent of the day -- my Kobo isn't working right any more :(   And it's only a few months old.  Booooo.   When you plug it in it only sometimes charges (and a Kobo with no charge is less than useless) and it won't connect to my computer at all, making getting new books more of a pita.  Thoroughly not impressed :(  And the internet suggests *lots* of people are having these problems.  Till now, I loved it.  But now I might recommend one of the other e-reader options out there to those shopping.

Now in much happier news - Sasha did her first agility class this week :)  hahaha woohoo!  She has to pass grade two before she can do real agility but this was an "on leash" class (nobody ever said the leash had to actually be held!)  She was *SPUN* when we went in.  Fake grass and TONS of new dogs to play with (and they did all seem to be full-grown dogs; I'm pretty sure Sasha was the youngest).  At that point I had a *few* doubts.   First, and most important -- I couldn't really control her even ON leash.  Definitely not a promising start *sigh*.   Then, the ring was set up with three stations - jumps, tunnels, and planks.  Sash isn't a big fan of jumping and hates terrain changes.  So the only one I thought might go well was tunnels.  *sigh*   But at least the jumps were super low -- going over them would be not much different than stepping over the poles flat on the ground at the barn.

So they divided the class into three -- seemed to mostly be by size.  Sasha was with a couple boarder collie types who seemed to have been there before.   Our group started with the jumping -- she certainly did it well enough; didn't like the idea of one she'd actually have to jump over but everything little was done bravely if a little puzzled: "ummmm Laur?  It's really just as fast and much easier to go around..."  hahaha but she's a good puppy, so she humours me.
This is easy!
So then we moved on to the tunnels - which she loved!  She figured out that game after the first try: "I go through here, you give me treats."  And then would *run* to whatever tunnel was closest and bolt through it -- I was having to run just to get to the other end before she did -- even though they were curved tunnels!  hahaha so that part she's clearly got down :)  The only down side was when she tried to randomly pick her own tunnel, just as somebody else was setting up from the other side.  Oops - poor puppy form!
Best. Game. Ever.

The day finished off with planks -- Sasha's not a huge fan of weird footing OR heights, so I wasn't sure how this would work, but with a handy lead of hotdogs after the first few tentative steps she was happily trotting along from one end of the balance beam to the other, up and over the A-frame, and even navigating the teeny-tiny teeter-totter!  I was pretty thrilled :)
First time on the A-frame
And grade two starts next week :)

Happy Easter

So it totally makes sense that Bunny Day is good for jumping!

Started with my awesome working students who were SO ON today :)   Brena and Rebecca both pulled off a complex gymnastic of bounce, one stride, bounce, one stride, oxer.  Woohoo!  And at a reasonable height too :)

Then I was going to dressage Athena, but Brena offered to set fences for me, so I figured I should take advantage of that opportunity since A needs TONS of gymnastics but they're a pita to set when you ride alone all the time.

And just as well, since Athena was *spun* when I got on her.  hahaha so I let her run around the ring a bit (it wasn't pretty) and as soon as she was warmed up and I had something that vaguely resembled control we switched to jumping.  Popped her over a little (2'3"ish) oxer a couple times at the trot before moving on to our standard pole-vertical-pole w/u.  I had the poles set pretty close to the jump to really encourage her to round.  Normal jumps until we got to about 3' and then suddenly we had a bascule and a half!  hahaha Not sure how it looked but it was pretty kewl to ride.  Although made the 3' jump feel about 5'.  Sheesh.

So then went back to our baby oxer and added a baby vert one stride in front.  We've been doing a lot of little gymnastics with this horse to try and get her figuring out where her feet are.  Popped through it a couple times, np.  Add another jump one stride in front of it, cheated a couple times trying to add a canter stride in but not tragic.   She was speedbumping the middle fence though - not even really acknowledging its presence.  So we made it a bit bigger - about entry height.

Still didn't care.  Jumping beautifully.  Slight drift, but nothing tragic.  So we upped the oxer a couple holes -- also entry-ish.  Flawless.  Ok fine, up two more holes.  Still easy.   Not even putting real effort into it.  (See above paragraph -- she usually starts throwing herself over with all her power at about 3').  Ok fine, up two more holes.

Turn the corner...  hmmmm that looks a little bigger than I anticipated.  And definitely bigger than I've jumped her before.  Ah well - already on the line, committed now.  She hesitates one stride out of the first fence - which actually works in my favour as it gives us the trot approach instead of the canter stride.  Put a little more leg on and she jumps the next two like an absolute superstar.  Didn't even overjump the oxer or kickout with her hind legs (her two standard "I don't know about this" reactions).  Actually jumped it confidently and as though she schools that height all the time.  Even landed straight, on the correct lead and balanced!  O.M.G.  hahaha Ok, we're done.   I was *thrilled*.    hahaha part of successful horse training is knowing enough to quit while you're ahead.   When you most want to do it again, is often when it's the perfect time to stop.  Carrot and pats for pony :)

Did eventually check the height of the fence - it was between the 3'6 and 3'9 range -- certainly not massive, but a good sign for the horse I have ambitions of sending training level, but have been wondering if those ambitions might be pushing her ability.   So after several weeks of less-successful rides, to have her jump positively and comfortably over a reasonable sized fence pretty much made my week.  Now admittedly there's a long way between one fence at the end of a gymnastic and a course full of single jumps, but still - it's a giant leap in the right direction :)

Oh, and my puppy was an unbelievable superstar in puppy class on Saturday.  I'm still grinning about that too.  Great weekend!

Why dogs don't live as long as people

This popped up on my Facebook and I thought I'd share.

First the photo caught my attention because there was one of these dogs doing a m/u in my puppy class one day and omg was it ever cute in a horrendously unfortunate type of way.  Poor thing did *not* know what each of its very long legs was doing at any given time and had a seriously delayed reaction to any command.  BUT was clearly a complete sweetheart trying as hard as he could.

Then I started reading and figured the story was worth a share.  I spent a *full* ten minutes googling and was unable to find the author (although I did find several million copies of the story) so I'm going to call this one Anonymous.

Kleenex warning.


Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa , and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker 's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I live.

He said,''People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?''

The Six-year-old continued, ''Well, dogs already know how to do that when they're born, so they don't have to stay as long.''

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you’re not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


Mini puppy brag :)

Been pretty proud of my puppy lately :)

So in puppy class, the trainers are very good about keeping an eye on any dog that might not be entirely under control in case they have to step in.  It's very rare that they do, but every once in a while it happens that a dog gets to be a little more than the handler is prepared for, and I've watched them step in subtly but effectively.   Well one of the things they teach is "settle/sit" -- as in when the dog is playing, it should stop on command.  I've taught Sasha this one as a combined "chill" command.  And she's very good at it *g*   She has to be, since we tend to play fairly hard :)

Anyways - they tell us to give the play command and I have Sasha pretty thoroughly revved.  hahaha none of the other dog owners seem to play quite that hard *g*  She's barking and jumping around and being totally psyc since it was early in the day and she was still fairy excited, and I half-noticed a couple of the instructors hovering in "just-in-case" position :)   So they tell us to give said "settle/sit" command and I tell Sash to chill and she instantly goes quiet and sits and looks at me.  And behind me all I hear is a very quietly spoken "wow".  hahaha kinda made my day.

So this week I had her out working on recalls -- lots of distractions in the form of the little dogs that belong to my landlords who she adores.  And just as she's about far enough away to call her, the long-leash broke.  And yet even with her own personal squeaky-toys to play with and no way for me to reinforce, she still came right away.  I was pretty thrilled about that :)   Little things in life eh?

And then she followed that by working on leash respect and choosing *not* to chase her cat friend down the driveway.  Again, a little thing, but I was super impressed.  Yeah puppy!

So yeah - nothing of national consequence, but in my little world, I've been pretty happy :)

Running away to join the circus

(stolen from GRS blog :)

Today some of the more adventurous GRS riders tried out a new form of cross-training:  circus school!

Yes, I'm serious.

Arguably not the best thing to do the day after stacking 400+ bales of hay, but still So. Much. Fun!

Today's participants included:  









and Rowan.
There will be photos.  Lots of photos.  Some here and tons on FB.  Just waiting till I get the the ones from other cameras so I can pick and choose the best.  So far many of the ones I've seen have been blurry (the lighting was tricky and for some reason people really weren't staying very still!) BUT in every one the subject is smiling.  Definitely a good sign.

I also have to say - rotating photos so they're the right way around when half the time the people are *supposed* to be upside-down...?  Tricky.  And the photos in this particular blog are of the unedited-unphotoshopped-just-want-to-publish-and-go-to-bed variety...  hahaha they may or may not (realistically likely not :) get updated at a future time.

Ok so last time I did this (ummmm should I admit there was a last time?) we did a very gentle series of stretches and then were slowly introduced to the silks.  Got tons of time to play on them as we had several sets going at once, but was very low key.  This time?  Yeah not so much.  We started with jumping jacks and push-ups and a roll-over thing that made people look a little like fish out of water (and some of us couldn't steer so there was a bit of crashing into each other too -- just not pretty, trust me).  *Then* stretching -- but not nice easy stretching, no...  Cruel and unusual stretching up to and including the splits (Kirby won that one :)

But *finally* we got to play!   We started with the trapeze.  Somehow I got volunteered to go first -- I think I have Kerri to thank for that, but she was rapidly seconded by a whole bunch of people.  Sheesh.

So the last time I sat on a trapeze I was about 12.  Oh dear.  But still just as much fun as I remembered.  Step one was getting on.  Tip backwards and bring your knees up, rotate over your head so they're in pike position, then straighten them back up and hook them over the bar.
Emily with her knees up, ready for the next step!
Personally, I found getting my knees up over the bar was np, but that pike position -- wow was that trapeze ever wavering all over the place with my arms shaking!
Mieke demonstrating the pike :)
But yes, once on the first task was to hang upside down.  Did I mention this was the FIRST task.  So much for starting out simple!  hahaha but *everybody* did it!  Wooohoo!!!
Brena showing off the upside-down hang
Ok so then still on the trapeze, we did a sideways hang which was actually both fun AND easy -- a not entirely common combination we rapidly discovered *g*  The hardest part of this move was the ab strength required to get back out of it.  Yeah sitting trot.  This was where we started to notice that some people have a natural grace.  Alas, I am not one of those people.  *sigh*

The first step was to sit on the trapeze:
Aileen up on the trapeze
 And then to tip sideways and hang off of it with kind of a queen-wave thing going:
Kerri 's princess wave
You gotta admit - you're never going to see the queen waving quite the same way again :)

So about this point we left the trapeze to try the silks.   Step one was to climb!  Some found this easier than others.  A few lessons learned...  1: wrap the silk around your foot and step on it.  Those that didn't quite get that part really didn't get far off the ground.  2: Long pants and/or socks make life significantly more challenging.  And 3: once you DO get off the ground, Don't. Look. Down.  
Katlyn breaking rule 3!
The next step required no actual skill but far more bravery.  hahaha our instructor tied a knot in the silks making a swing of sorts, and as with the trapeze -- step one was to hang upside-down.  Sheesh >;-P
Demi is WAY too flexible -- actually managed to make this look graceful!
Following that entertainment was a combination of skill and strength leading to...  ummm I guess I'll call it a swan, but really?  I don't know what we were doing *g*   Kirby was definitely by FAR the most graceful of us here, but sadly I did not get a decent photo of it (maybe when the rest come in :)   However, everybody managed to pull this one off reasonably well!
Chelsea being a swan
After the swan we had our most complex maneuver of the day -- always good when your muscles are starting to fatigue.  At least we got to practice this one sitting down first!   You have to basically use one foot to tie a knot around the other one.  Sounds tricky enough like that -- even more when you realize you have to do this while holding yourself up in the air!
Kirby wasn't alone with getting the "a little sloppy" comment about the knot - but @ least she got it done!
Then AFTER you managed to get the knot tied, you could try one of a few movements -- most of us opted for this star type pose.  Rowan definitely pulled it off the best!
Rowan's Star
 After that, we were all a little beat...

So we watched our coach show off (at our request) for the last few minutes.  And honestly, that was just as if not more entertaining than the rest of the day!  He did rope and hoop -- and thanks to Bev, we have video of some of the rope :)

But all in all, an awesome day!  As I said at the beginning: So. Much. Fun!  Not sure what the *next* outing may be, but with these girls involved, I'm already looking forward to whatever it is!

hmmmm ok so I def just saw a few of Katlyn's mum's photos - and they are amazing.  But it's bedtime >;-P So they'll go up in the fb album instead!